Do you need a wellness coach?

Do you need a wellness coach?

By Shelley Walcott, Stephanie Graham. CREATED Apr 2, 2012 - UPDATED: Apr 2, 2012

MILWAUKEE- Does your daily routine leave you exhausted and stressed? You're not alone. Now there's a new group of professionals that promise to perform a complete life makeover.

Christine Silva was stressed to the max, trying to balance work and family, with no time left over for herself.

"I was constantly exhausted. I felt like I was never able to keep up," Silva recalls.

So she decided to try something new--hiring a wellness coach to help her regain control of her life.

"Within the very first session I realized this is not about just getting exercise. It was about how do I see myself and where do I want to be," Silva says.

Unlike personal trainers, who concentrate on physical fitness, a wellness coach takes a more holistic approach, focusing on both the body and the mind. They meet clients one-on-one, and help them create an individualized health plan.

Margaret Moore is CEO with Wellcoaches Corporation. She says, "The coach is really trained to help you take a bigger picture of you, over all aspects of your health and wellness and then come up with a formula that combines all of these things together."

Wellness coaching used to focus on helping individuals cope with one particular disease, and life coaching in general was reserved for busy executives. Now a new trend is becoming more mainstream: Wellness coaching, that blends life coaching for regular people and it's even endorsed by the American College of Sports Medicine. Dr. Holly Benjamin is with the College.

"It was seen in the workplace with executives that they were more productive if they were healthy and fit, and they were handling their stress well and addressing all the issues of wellness. So now it's showing to be advantageous for the average person to pursue wellness as well," Dr. Holly Benjamin says.

The medical community is taking notice. A limited pilot program from Harvard Vanguard allows patients with weight and health problems to try a coach at no charge.

"The coaching world has come up with skills to help people make changes that last," Moore says.

Of course hiring the right coach is key. Right now there is no national certification for wellness coaches, so experts suggest you ask a lot of questions. Dr. Benjamin suggests, "They should make sure they know the fees up front, they should know what the wellness coach is offering, communication, how many times they meet."

Christina's been working with her coach for 2 years, and is amazed at how her life has changed. "I'm more relaxed almost on a daily basis."

Wellness coaches can come from a variety of backgrounds - fitness, psychology, physical therapy, nursing, and others. The National Consortium for credentialing health and wellness coaches is currently working to develop a national certification for wellness coaches. Wellcoaches and the American College of Sports Medicine are helping to lead this initiative.